High Highs, Low Lows. Should you be doing high or low intensity workouts?

April 29, 2019


High intensity workouts are getting a lot of attention, but how do you know if it's the right workout for you? Find out more about the differences between high and low intensity exercise and which you should be incorporating into your workout routine. 

Do you ever wish things were as simple as they were when you were a kid? No bills to pay. No pile of deadlines on your desk. Getting exercise was pretty simple, too. Sure, sometimes you had to run the mile in gym class, but other than that, as long as you played around outside for a while, you figured you were good.

Not so as an adult. Now, you have to watch your MHR during your HIIT so you can hit your goal BMI. Will you PR? (We believe in you.) In all seriousness and acronyms aside, it’s getting tricky to keep up on the latest workout science. What type of exercise is best for your body?

While we can’t tailor the ideal workout for your unique physical form via email (that would be cool. Maybe in the year 2100...), we can help you understand one of the core differentiators in the modern workout game. Exercise can pretty much be broken into two overarching categories: low-intensity and high-intensity workouts.

For a low-intensity workout, think something you could probably not shower after and get away with it. That could be walking, a stretch class or some yin yoga.

There’s been some debate recently about which is best. I mean, if you can support your health without extended periods of the often-dreaded cardio, why not? So here’s the scoop:

When you have a lower heart rate while exercising, your body burns a higher percentage of fat than carbohydrates. At face value, then, low-intensity workouts seem ideal. But the issue is that by slowing down your workout, you’re also slowing down your calorie burn. And even though your body’s burning a higher ratio of fat to carbs, it still takes a lot longer to burn as much fat as you would in a high-intensity workout.

High-intensity workouts are just what they sound like. That could be (you guessed it!) high-intensity interval training (HIIT), running, cross fit, boxing, or just about anything else that’s going to have you working up a sweat.

Then, is high-intensity the way to go? Well, possibly, except there are the injury and burnout issues. Pushing yourself to 110% every time you hit the gym can make you more likely to hurt yourself. If you’re always going pedal-to-the-metal you’re also less likely to stick with workouts long-term.

In the debate over high-intensity or low-intensity workouts, which is best at the end of the day? Long story short: both. Intermix your workouts and you’ll unlock all the benefits of both, mix up your routine enough to not get bored, and make it easier to create a sustainable exercise habit for yourself.

Guess the old saying holds true. Everything in moderation!

Be well,

Billy & the ICONIC Team

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